Advocate editorial board opinion: Visitors from North should be welcomed with open arms

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Dec. 27, 2010 at 6:27 a.m.

Victoria is becoming more and more attractive to visitors. And one group of visitors, one that has increased in number over the years - we call winter Texans. Extra effort should be expended to keep and lure more of these visitors, who really become part-time residents for a good portion of the year.

Randy Vivian, president/CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said last year, the first welcome-back for winter Texans event was held at the Victoria Community Center.

"A couple of hundred attended," he said. He added that among the festivities, the winter Texans were given a discount book to use at Victoria businesses.

"Eventually, we will try to market to them to bring more in," Vivian said.

But more full-scale recreational vehicle parks will need to be available for these visitors, according to Bridgette Bise, Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.

Right now, about a total of 500 RV spaces are available. Bise said the city could probably handle about three or four more RV parks. But people in the business of RV parks will have to build them.

Vivian said the winter Texans "contribute to the economy." Bise agreed.

"They don't participate in the hotel/motel tax," Bise said. She added that some in the state want to make RV spaces taxable for hotel/motel tax. "However, not during this legislative session," she said.

"They do contribute a lot to sales tax here," she said. RV space fees range in price from $10 to $25 a day, "and they don't take away from the property tax rate."

Winter Texans buy groceries, frequent restaurants and retail stores. "And they are here quite a while," Vivian said.

Expected at the welcome-back event scheduled Jan. 26 is about 300 to 350 of the 500 winter Texans coming to Victoria. Bise said invitations were sent to attend the event via the RV parks.

As requested from last year's winter Texans, Bise said a country-opry style dinner and dance will be put on for them.

We think winter Texans are very important because they are Victoria residents about half the year. So, yes, they should be recognized and welcomed. And even more should be planned to keep them and get the word out that Victoria welcomes these visitors from the North.

As Vivian noted, they could "keep on going and go down to the valley and set up down there, but they like our community."

And the more we provide for them, make them welcome, the more they will come back year after year, and, likely, they will bring other winter Texans with them.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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